International Commitments related to water for food and ecosystems to which the international community has subscribed in past global conferences, summits and conventions

A Complete Overview of International Commitments related to water for food and ecosystems to which the international community has subscribed in past global conferences, summits and conventions.

Full Background document
on Int'l Commitments (WFE)


 Annex A+B - Annex C1 - Annex C2 - Annex C3 - Annex D - Annex E+F

World Food Summit

In 1996, 180 nations met at FAO headquarters for the World Food Summit (WFS) to discuss ways to end hunger. Nations pledged to eradicate hunger and committed themselves to a basic target: reducing the number of undernourished people by half by 2015 (See MDG-1).

The conclusions of that Summit are summarized in two documents:

  • Rome Declaration on World Food Security and,
  • World Food Summit Plan of Action.

    To check on progress being made, nations met again in 2002 at the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl). At that time, FAO published technical background papers setting out the ways in which the WFS target could be translated into feasible programmes and projects. The Declaration of that Summit called for the creation of an International Alliance Against Hunger to join forces in efforts to eradicate hunger.

    Almost all of FAO's activities, in one way or another, have at their base the WFS and its target. The most thorough explanation of FAO's response to the Summit is the Strategic Framework for FAO: 2000-2015, which outlines its long-term plans and activities.

    World Water Forum II

    The World Water Forum serves to raise water on the political agenda, deepen discussions towards the solution of international water issues in the 21st century, formulate concrete proposals and bring their importance to the world's attention. At the first World Water Forum, held in Marrakech in 1997, the World Water Council was mandated to develop a "World Water Vision" aimed at strengthening commitment to a water-secure future. Developed by the World Commission on Water, it was presented at the World Water Forum II (The Hague, 2000):
    A Vision of Water for Food, Agriculture and Rural Development
    "At the heart of our vision of water for agriculture and rural development is a world of healthy people with access to adequate nutrition. This picture encompasses both cultivators, and those who work at other things and purchase their food. Surrounding the people are other features of our vision:
  • Vibrant rural communities comprising both young and old, living in security, with educational opportunities, social services, employment opportunities in and out of agriculture providing reliable access to food, good transportation and communication links with market and administrative centres and regional and world economies.
  • A healthy natural environment, with clean water in streams, lakes, rivers and underground aquifers, and stable and diverse natural ecosystems.
  • Opportunity for farmers and other rural residents to participate in the global rise in standards of living.
  • Agriculture in rainfed, drained and irrigated areas, operating on a sustainable basis in an equitable price environment, using water efficiently.
  • Women, men, and communities in reasonable control over their livelihoods and their resource base, supported by responsive public agencies."
  • World Water Vision

    Millennium Development Goals

    The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) commit the international community to to vigorously promote human development as the key to sustaining social and economic progress, and have been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress. The member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration in September 2000, and later recognized the MDGs as part of the "road map" for implementing the Millennium Declaration. MDGs relevant to relevant to water for food and ecosystems:

    • MDG-1: "to halve by the year 2015 the proportion of the world’s people who suffer from hunger";
    • MDG-7: "Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse the loss of environmental resources".

    Millennium Declaration
    Millennium Development Goals (UN)
    Millennium Development Goals (World Bank)

    World Summit on Sustainable Development

    Held in Johannesburg in September 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development addressed the slow rate of progress in implementing the goals set by the UN "Earth Summit" of 1992. As an implementation-focused Summit, Johannesburg established important new targets, such as halving the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015, and achieving by 2010 a significant reduction in the loss of biological diversity. Water-related recommendations:

    • To reverse the current trend in natural resource degradation as soon as possible, it is necessary to implement strategies which should include targets adopted at the national, and where appropriate, regional levels to protect ecosystems and to achieve integrated management of land, water and living resources, while strengthening regional, national and local capacities. (24)
    • Sustainable agriculture and rural development are essential to the implementation of an integrated approach to increasing food production and enhancing food security and food safety in an environmentally sustainable way. (40)
    • Develop and implement integrated land management and water-use plans that are based on sustainable use of renewable resources. (40b)
    • Reverse the declining trend in public sector finance for sustainable agriculture [...] support efforts in developing countries and countries with economies in transition to strengthen agricultural research and natural resource management capacity. (40j)
    • Develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005. (26)
    • Achieve by 2010 a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biological diversity. (44)

    Johannesburg Summit

    Convention on Biological Diversity

    One of the key agreements adopted at 1992 Earth Summit was the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a pact among the vast majority of the world's governments that sets out commitments for maintaining the planet's ecological underpinnings while continuing economic development. The Convention establishes three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. Of relevance to water for food and ecosystems are:

    • Work programme on Inland Waters, implemented in close co-operation with Ramsar Convention and others, focusing on status and trends; assessments; taxonomy; and national measures
    • Work programme on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity, focusing on Integrated Marine and Coastal Area Management, sustainable use of marine living resources; protected areas; and mariculture
    • Work programme on Agrobiodiversity, implemented in close co-operation with FAO, focusing on assessments; adaptive management; capacity building; and mainstreaming
    • Decisions elaborating 12 principles of the ecosystem approach
    • Work programmes on dry and subhumid lands, forest biological diversity; and mountains

    Convention on Biological Diversity

    Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

    The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was adopted in the city of Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 and came into force in 1975. It is the only global environmental treaty that deals with wetland ecosystems. The Convention's member countries cover all the world's geographic regions. Activities related to water for food and ecosystems include:

    • Over three decades of international co-operation has resulted in a coherent approach of policy, programmes and actions to promote the conservation and sustainable use of wetland areas
    • Specific attention has been given recently to reinforce co-operation with agriculture at the international, national and local level

    Ramsar Convention

    Third World Water Forum

    Held in Japan in March 2003, the Third World Water Forum was attended by some 10,000 representatives of governments, international organizations and NGOs. At the conclusion of the forum, Ministers and Heads of Delegation, assembled in Kyoto, issued a declaration affirming that water is a driving force for sustainable development, including environmental integrity, and the eradication of poverty and hunger. The Declaration includes several points specific to water for food and agriculture:

    • Improve the development and management of water for agriculture to meet the growing and changing demand for food, alleviate poverty and sustain economic growth.
    • Balance the use and development of water with available water resources; preserve water quality in order to achieve sustainable patterns of water use through integrated approaches linking water management with the conservation and sustenance of ecosystems; and maintain the integrity of land and water systems upon which agricultural production depends.
    • Enhance the cooperation and partnership of all stakeholders in all aspects of agricultural water use, development and management; increase access to water resources; improve the productivity of rainfed and irrigated farming systems; and equitably share benefits and risks.
    • Water is essential for broad based agricultural production and rural development in order to improve food security and eradicate poverty. It should continuously contribute to a variety of roles incl. food production, economic growth and environmental sustainability. We should reduce unsustainable water management and improve the efficiency of agricultural water use. To ensure a sustainable water supply of good quality, we should protect and use in a sustainable manner the ecosystems that naturally capture, filter, store and release water, such as rivers, wetlands, forests and soils.

    World Water Forum III Ministerial Declaration [PDF]
    World Water Forum IV (Local Actions for a Global Challenge, Mexico 2006)